Author Amy Clark

Amy Clark is a freelance writer and runner living in Bend, Oregon. In addition to running marathons and ultra marathons, she has parasailed in Baja, snowboarded in Big Sky and fought wildfires for the U.S. Forest Service. A native of Oregon, Amy is working on her first extreme adventure novel while living (and running) in Bend.

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Walking With Laz – #Lazcon2018

Rolling up to Laz, he appeared as though he could have been part of a survey crew, or some form of civic organization in his neon yellow reflective vest. But Gary Cantrell, more commonly known as Lazarus Lake (Laz for short), is far from being associated with any government entity. He’s on a mission to walk across the United States, and he’s almost finished.

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In Search of Motivation

Low spots. Speed bumps. Ruts. We’ve all had them. Suddenly you find yourself in the midst of training without any mojo and weeks to go. How do you get back those butterflies you initially felt after registering on Ultrasignup.com?  Here are a few ideas to conquer what you’ll eventually see as a minor blip on your way to the finish line.

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When Race Day Gets Canceled

Wildfire season has arrived, right in the midst of summer training. Due to some of the most hazardous air quality conditions in the country caused by smoke, this year’s Siskiyou Out Back (SOB) Trail Run in Ashland, Oregon was canceled last weekend.

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Your Inner Voice Deserves Some Attention

Lately, my inner voice has been talking and I’m proud to say I’ve been listening. It tells me to push through summer’s intense heat when I’ve got no other options. Other times I hear a faint whisper throughout a long run telling me that things are not going as planned, and just to let it go.

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Community Is Everything

Whether it’s a medical talk on foot care or the vendor expo during the Western States 100 race registration, the feeling is overwhelming:  people have gathered together from all over the world to witness this annual event. But it didn’t matter whether you were a runner, crew member, pacer, volunteer or spectator – you were a part of the ultrarunning community.

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The Nerve: Race Anxiety

It’s inevitable these days, a debilitating race anxiety hits that’s so overwhelming it’s actually scary. Heartbeats pound strong enough I feel as if my chest will shatter. Night sweats drench my pajamas. And a stomach twisted with nervous energy ensures the probability of getting any solid food down is next to nothing. Tackling new distances seems to exacerbate things, as I step into the unknown.

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Finding a Coach

Spending my days alone in a home office keeps me longing for an escape, and a well-earned lunch of fresh air and vitamin D on the trails is often the highlight of my day. And while I run regularly with others, we typically don’t make a habit of analyzing our training plans. That’s where the services of a coach can come in handy. Here are a few things to consider when looking for someone to crack the proverbial whip.

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Live Wire Sabotage

Stories of canceled flights, food poisoning and illness have circulated as unfortunate reasons for a DNS (did not start). But never in my 16-year, long distance running career have I ever faced an obstacle while getting to the race start.

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Loneliness Is A Misconception

During the hour just before dusk, I was on a trail in the Columbia River Gorge trying to chase a cutoff during the Gorge Waterfalls 100K. Everything around me was already dark due to the tall Douglas fir trees and thick vegetation. My headlamp was at the next aid station which still seemed miles away.

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A Rumble In The Woods

Wildfires scorched over 24,000 acres of the Deschutes National Forest just west of Sisters, Oregon late last summer. Thick smoke settled in the small town of just 2,000 people, delaying the start of school and forcing many to cancel their vacation plans. So when the Peterson Ridge Rumble announced that the only change to this year’s event was a shortened section of trail on the 40-mile race course, no one was complaining.

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Looking Back At The First Year

Think back to your first year running ultramarathons. Remember those nerves that stemmed from stepping into the unknown? How many times did you ask yourself if you’d be able to go the distance? What did crossing the finish line of your very first ultra do for your confidence?

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The Goal Of Pacing And Crewing

As you begin to dive into the final weeks of training for spring ultras, consider which of your running compadrés might need a crew or pacer this season. With the pacer request page recently launched on the Western States website, there’s no guarantee all registered runners will be able to bring along someone to support them during the 100-mile adventure.

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Tip Your Hat To Trail Etiquette

Racing season has arrived. There’s no better time for those of us both old and new to the sport of ultra running to remember that trail etiquette can make or break a hard-earned race experience. Just last weekend, I was reminded how small things can have a huge impact in even the shortest of trail races.

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Mud And Rainbows At Hagg Lake

Tucked between the metropolis of Portland, Oregon and the Northern Oregon Coast Range, sits Henry Hagg Lake.  Fully stocked for year-round fishing, this tranquil body of water is nestled among the nearby 40 wineries that produce some of Oregon’s finest varietals such as Pinot Noir. While wine tasting might be a popular activity during Oregon’s rainy months, the Hagg Mud 50K & 25K is a February ultra that’s had a cult-like following for over 15 years – and for good reason.

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Jorge Maravilla: Looking Ahead

Some may know Jorge as the General Manager of the San Francisco Running Company, while others have likely raced alongside him at a local ultra or marathon. Making headlines in 2017 as winner of both the San Francisco Marathon and Penghu Cross-Sea Marathon in Taiwan while placing 10th at UTMB CCC, Jorge had a busy year.

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Your Very First 100, Far From Home

If you’re like me, you’ve dreamt of running a 100-mile race at some point in your life. As that dream starts to become a reality, it’s easy to dive into the dirty details. Which race will take my 100-mile virginity? Who will crew and pace me? How will I get myself and my crew to the race? Sound familiar? A never-ending list of logistics doesn’t need to get in the way of running a hundo.

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Triple Crown of 200’s Champion

The Triple Crown of 200’s is awarded to the fastest runner who completes the three original non-repetitive 200-mile trail running courses in the U.S. in under three months. This year’s winner, Mike McKnight, went and elevated the definition of extreme ultrarunning without giving in to the pain he’s worked so hard to push through.

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Stacey Buckley: Balancing Life and Ultrarunning

Imagine a high school track star who dared not run distances longer than 800 meters, but would eventually grow up to find herself finishing (and winning) 50 and 100-milers. That’s exactly what Nebraskan Stacey Buckley is doing, and she’s just getting started.

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Looking Ahead

It’s that time of year when thoughts drift to what next season might bring, as strategic planning for race lotteries…

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Oregon Coast 50K: Come For The Beach, Stay For The Trails

The mystical beauty of the Oregon Coast harnesses thousands of visitors every year. Just drive Highway 101 any time between Memorial Day until the kids to return to school, and you’ll find a steady stream of cars filled with those who are dying to dip their toes into the 50-degree temps of the Pacific Ocean. Which is why early October is perfect for the Oregon Coast 50K, as runners begin looking for peaceful shores and deserted trails without having to worry about dodging seasonal tourists.

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Running Camp with Bronco Billy & Speedgoat

With summer fading into a distant memory, you may already be reminiscing about sitting around the campfire under the stars. No matter what your age, those memories of being outside next to the crackling fire never seem to fade. Now imagine you’ve just finished a full day of running camp with Jeff Browning aka “Bronco Billy” and Karl “Speedgoat” Meltzer.

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What Happens After Wildfires

I sit here writing as three of my favorite trail systems across Oregon are being devastated by wildfire. As a former wildland firefighter, I understand that what may seem like a catastrophe can actually benefit an ecosystem. But as a trail runner, I continue to struggle with the fact that the lush trails full of thick vegetation and old growth trees are being scorched and burned away.

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Why Ultras Need Ham Radio

In the remote world of ultras, quick communication is key when it comes to finding lost runners and saving lives. With cell coverage spotty at best in most mountain ranges, ultra marathons must rely on the expertise of local ham (amateur) radio operators.

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Mental Toughness

There’s a voice that often pops inside my head every time I’m out on a run. It says, “Why aren’t you tough enough?” If I successfully avoid these negative whispers, it’s because I summited a butte without pausing to catch my breath, or conquered a trail at full force. Those days are few and far between, but when they do happen I feel like I can do anything. Like I am tough. Unfortunately, that voice of doubt always seems to return.

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Battling Running-Induced Stress

Stress is a topic I’m not fond of. For years, running has helped me deal with it during blowups at the office, riffs at home or just plain, rotten days. Hopping on the trail with a friend can ease the pressure with a little sunshine, fresh air and welcome distraction. On the flip side, there are times when a big dollop of cortisol gets tossed at me and causes my running to cease completely.

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A Western States Hangover

The past 24 hours weighed heavily on my eyelids as we began to close in on a successful finish at Placer High. Like thousands of others, my dream is to one day run Western States, and being so close to the action as a crew member is intoxicating.

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Handling Ultra “Firsts”

It’s not hard to draw upon those cherished memories of “firsts” – first kiss, first love or the birth of your first child. Endorphins likely flooded your system as the thrill and excitement of each moment became palatable. Now, forget all of those. In the sport of ultrarunning, there’s another set of firsts you’re likely to experience and want to forget (but won’t be able to), all for the desperate pursuit of capturing some more coveted endorphins. Here’s a list of few firsts that come with running an ultra, and how to take them in stride.

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